×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jennifer Hudson to star in ‘Winnie’

Thesp to play former wife of Nelson Mandela

Jennifer Hudson is set to star in “Winnie,” a drama that casts her as the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

Hudson will play Winnie Mandela in a film that begins production May 30 in the South African locations of Johannesburg, Capt Town, Transkei and Robben Island, where the future president spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

“Winnie” will be directed by Darrell J. Roodt, the veteran South African filmmaker whose 2006 film “Yesterday” was Africa’s Best Foreign Film nominee, and who also directed “Cry, The Beloved Country,” and “Sarafina!”

Andre Pieterse, Roodt and Paul L. Johnson wrote a script based on the Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob biography “Winnie Mandela:A Life.” Picture is being made with South African and Canadian money, with Pieterse producing with Michael Mosca of Canada’s Equinoxe Films.

While Nelson Mandela — who’ll be played by Morgan Freeman in the Clint Eastwood-directed “Invictus” — is a universally sympathetic figure for his struggle against apartheid, his former wife is a far more complicated figure. She has been depicted as the mother and wife who was a steadfast supporter of her activist husband and who was jailed herself for campaigning for his release and fighting against apartheid. Her image was subsequently tarnished by association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year old alleged informer, and she was later convicted of fraud.

The filmmakers will tell the whole story, good and bad.

“I was compelled and moved when I read the script,” Hudson said. “Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told.”

Hudson, who is expected to sing the film’s theme song, won the Oscar for her screen debut in “Dreamgirls’ and followed with “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Sex in the City.”

More Film

  • Edgar Wright

    Edgar Wright Preps London-Set Psychological Horror Movie, Talks ‘Baby Driver 2’

    Edgar Wright’s next project will be a psychological horror film set in London’s Soho district and with a female lead. The “Baby Driver” writer and helmer has also talked about the sequel to that movie, and said a first draft of “Baby Driver 2” is ready. Wright was talking to British film magazine Empire. The [...]

  • Trailer for Berlin Panorama Opener 'Flatland'

    Trailer for Berlin Panorama Opener 'Flatland' Revealed (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for Jenna Bass’s “Flatland,” which is the opening film of Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Sales are being handled by The Match Factory. The South African film is a contemporary Western centering on a journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women. “It paints [...]

  • 'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-and-Date China Release

    'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-and-Date China Release

    Marvel Studios’ hotly anticipated blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as it debuts in North America. The Brie Larson-starring picture will release on March 8, 2019, which is also International Women’s Day. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former fighter [...]

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.6% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Assn. of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content